In the mid-1990s, SWA advised the senior executive team of Speed Queen, a manufacturer of commercial washing machines in Ripon, Wisconsin. We worked with company managers and officials of the Local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to:

  • Transition the 900-employee plant from a piece-rate to a team-oriented production process
  • Pilot – and then roll out – team-oriented manufacturing
  • Reduce the number of job classifications from over 100 to fewer than 20
  • Reach contractual agreement on a “base pay plus team bonus” compensation system
  • Maintain substantial gains in quality and productivity

Speed Queen advanced from “worst to first” among Raytheon’s manufacturing facilities within one year. Raytheon’s board of directors visited the Ripon plant and produced an inspiring video describing Speed Queen’s transformation as an example for all Raytheon facilities. (Copy available)

Key Lessons

We learned that extensive union/management collaboration and consistent communications can enable a company to transform itself. We have built on these principles in numerous other client cases.

“With Dean’s guidance, we achieved the impossible! We nearly faced a strike, and Dean helped us find a way that was better for everyone.”

Herman Beach

Vice President Human Resources

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